Ohio University

Tantrum Theater Next to Normal set.

Tantrum Theater maps new territory close to home

At long last the College of Fine Art’s professional theater company, Tantrum Theater, has come home to Athens.

Director of Theater, Artistic Director of Tantrum Theater, and Professor of Lighting Design Michael Lincoln ticks off numerous benefits of the move, from simpler logistics and economics to increased student opportunities and community engagement.

“Everyone,” Lincoln says, “is excited about having Tantrum here.”

In 2015 Tantrum Theater, the School's professional company, began performing at the Abbey Theater of Dublin, Ohio. The move to Athens came in fall 2019

Lincoln estimates that approximately fifty students per year worked for Tantrum in Dublin.

“It was a big operation. We had to build everything here and then truck it up to Dublin. The cast had to have housing here in Athens while rehearsing, then in Dublin during the production. Our tech crews were constantly going back and forth. Logistically, it was kind of crazy," Lincoln says. "We decided it would be best brought onto campus and incorporated into what we do during the year with a smaller component over the summer.”

Professor and Head of Performance and Tantrum Theater Associate Artistic Director Shelley Delaney says the move to Athens means a more robust organization.

“When Tantrum Theater was located in Dublin, by necessity all productions took place during the summer," Delaney says. "Now, professional visiting artists are able to guest teach classes and observe rehearsals.”

Theater lovers based in the Athens community benefit as well, Lincoln says.

“There was always an interest in Tantrum’s productions from those in Athens, but people didn’t want to make the commitment of a two-hour drive there and a two-hour drive back.,” he says. “Tantrum Theater's productions compliment the 69-year old, Athens-based Ohio Valley Summer Theater productions, thereby offering theater enthusiasts an ongoing slate of productions."

“People who see theater in Athens know about us,” Delaney adds, “and they get excited when we bring in someone special: a director from D.C. or Chicago, or a major lighting designer.”

Tantrum opened its inaugural hometown season with three shows during the annual Athens Community Arts and Music Festival. The company’s major fall production was Eugene Ionesco’s Rhinoceros, featuring a guest director, two guest designers, and two guest actors. The second major Tantrum show, Objects in the Mirror, by Distinguished Professor of Playwriting Charles Smith, has been edited into a radio production to accommodate for social distancing guidelines due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Smith was interviewed on WOUB Public Media about the work and the pivot the cast made to create the play in the new format. For the 2020-21, season Tantrum will again produce a major show in the fall and one in the spring.

As the curtain rises on Tantrum’s next act, Bobcats, Athenians, and theater lovers alike can finally enjoy having the College’s professional theater company here at home.

Various scenes Tantrum productions.
Top: Dancing at Lughnasa, produced by Tantrum Theater, 2017. Bottom Left: Little Shop of Horrors, 2016. Bottom Right: Caroline, or Change, 2017 . Photos by Dan Winters